Woolpert Performs Largest Commercial Single Photon Lidar Acquisition in North America for USGS

The QL1 data was collected across multiple counties in South Dakota as part of the 3DEP initiative.

Lake Andes, S.D. (May 1, 2018) The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) contracted Woolpert for single photon lidar (SPL) data acquisition and processing of approximately 3,726 square miles of South Dakota. The task order was issued under the Geospatial Product and Services Contracts (GPSC 3) as part of the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP), which is a USGS initiative to systematically collect enhanced elevation data via high-quality lidar data across the conterminous U.S., Hawaii and the U.S. territories.

This nearly $1 million project was the largest commercial SPL acquisition ever conducted in North America, covering approximately 3,726 square miles in South Dakota. The counties of Aurora, Buffalo, Brule, Charles Mix and Jerauld were included in the projects area of interest.

The SPL sensor used in the acquisition, the Leica SPL100, is capable of collecting 6 million points per second using 100 output beams. John Gerhard, Woolpert vice president and program manager, said SPL is more efficient and can collect Quality Level 1 (QL1) or denser data from higher altitudes when compared to a traditional linear lidar sensor. Woolpert deployed its Twin Commander turbo-prop aircraft, equipped with the SPL100 sensor, for this project.

Leica Geosystems developed and provided the sensor, which was introduced last year, Gerhard said. As 3DEP and the need for enhanced elevation data applications expand, its vital to employ the tools most appropriate to each project to best support the USGS and 3DEP. Leica Geosystems has been a great resource and an outstanding partner on multiple projects.

Leica Geosystems has had the privilege to work on many new technology implementations with Woolpert over the years, and the South Dakota project followed the same successful path, said Bruce A. Wald from Leica Geosystems. The use of SPL100 on this data acquisition recognizes a major step in the maturity of the technology, both from an operational side as well as from processing and data quality perspectives. It is the direct result of a continued development effort since the initial introduction of the product and the acceptance of the delivered data confirms that the SPL100 meets the goal of providing a highly productive technology, targeted to high point densities and large areas.

This South Dakota SPL data collection was conducted over two seasons, due to the weather, between late November 2016 and April 2017. The data was then processed by Woolpert and approved by USGS on April 19, 2018. It ultimately will be made available to the public via the USGS National Map website.

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